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A Difficult Scripture

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Hebrews 6:4-6

Solomon, famous for his pithy proverbs, said some things we might rather overlook. Why on earth would he remind us of the unsavoury fact that a dog will return to its vomit? Why would the Apostle Peter repeat this proverb as though it held an important message? “Why” questions are helpful in leading us to examine difficult circumstances. If we are truly asking “Why” then we will search until we get the answer.

Proverbs chapter 26 majors on a theme in verses 1-12. Solomon takes the liberty of describing a fool. Using examples from nature, he suggests that snow in summer is as profitable as would be honouring a fool. They themselves are slaves of depravity, yet they promise freedom – what a picture of today where licentiousness is rampant. Even some of those who have a little knowledge of our Saviour’s mercy and grace, will sometimes fall back or as Solomon says, like a dog will return to its vomit.

Peter picks up this theme when he reflects on the problem of a person committed to following Jesus Christ and then changing his or her mind. Will they return to their old life-style with any sense of assurance that they will be welcomed in heaven? How many people have wanted to know they will go to heaven when they die, but have presumed upon the Saviour’s goodness and mercy by returning to their “vomit”?

According to Hebrews, it seems to be impossible for anyone having tasted of the heavenly gift [of faith] to be brought back to repentance, if they fall away (Hebrews 6:4-6). Are there no extenuating circumstances for those who backslide, or for those who choose to live carnal Christian lives? The problem is that people, taking for granted that a shallow declaration of faith will suffice, have not really tasted. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8). They wouldn’t, couldn’t give up the great joy that comes from seeing the goodness of God working in their own lives, from knowing the freedom that comes from forgiveness of sin!

Not being rooted and grounded in the love of God, do people care if they shame the very One in whom they say they have put their trust? This vacillation brings Jesus’ loving sacrifice into public disgrace. We make Him a laughing-stock. Not only that but it is equal to putting Him to death on the cross all over again. (Hebrews 6:6)

This passage of scripture has been debated by many theologians because it reflects on the possibility of losing one’s salvation, which other scriptures assure us is not possible. (Philippians 1:6, John 10:28-29). Hebrews also tells us one cannot be saved a second time (12:6).

Strong words used in this chapter are also used in other places in the book. Believers are cautioned to remember the early days of faith when their passion for the “light” drove them to defend the faith, even in the face of suffering. This is what it means to be truly enlightened! (Hebrews 10:32).

Reflection:

Our Master was willing to taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). Sharing in God’s holiness may require the Godly discipline exemplified by our Lord. Let’s remember there is a vast difference from yielding to temptation and choosing to live a life of sin. If we truly follow our Lord, we demonstrate that we receive enlightenment from the Holy Spirit on our daily journey. As a result we must be willing to learn, to be disciplined, maybe even to taste death. This may make us face some difficult choices.

Devotional · Uncategorized

Stuck in a Rut

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Psalm 51:10-13

When Jesus came to earth God had been silent for 400 years, historians like Josephus tell us. No prophets or priests had been given special messages for God’s people in such a long time! Yet the people waited. As circumstances unfolded, spiralling downwards, Israel still looked for Messiah. It is truly amazing that although their worship had degraded, they still held onto the hope that God would deliver them.

However, they had forgotten something. God’s promises would be fulfilled, but only on His terms. His promised deliverance would be of a spiritual nature, not political or temporal. What were those terms? Who would Messiah be like? The Jews had been given clues. Isaiah wrote about Messiah, as did David and some of the prophets. Whatever had been taught in the synagogues, or in the Temple at Jerusalem, it seems that the nation only had a partial understanding of what to expect.

Pain is a great catalyst calling for action ….some action, any action seems to be better than waiting. Ripe with expectation the Jewish people were ready to grasp at straws. If Jesus were truly Messiah, they were ready! The question was – were they ready to return to the loving arms of God? Were they prepared to follow Christ’s teachings? Certainly the religious elite were not…and they were the teachers of the people!

We know how that ended. Death seemed to have removed their only hope. Very few got the message. And Jesus wept (Matthew 23:37).

Have we, who are blessed to hold scripture in our hands, learned anything from these mistakes? Does Jesus weep today, watching people stuck in the same rut as the children of God, in ancient times? Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. What sort of deliverance are we waiting for, when we remember Jesus is coming again?

How often do we pray for deliverance from our circumstances – health issues, financial binds, unfulfilled relational needs and the list goes on? Are we interested in those deeper blessings only known as we shelter safe within the arms of God? Dottie Rambo wrote about that –

I’ll have no fear, for Jesus walks beside me…and I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God”.

Is that true for you and for me? Whatever happens today or tomorrow with COVID-19, are we ready to walk with God through it all? If Jesus should come today or tomorrow are we ready to meet Him?

Reflection:

What does your relationship with God mean to you today?

Do we anticipate a glorious reunion when we meet Jesus, Messiah, face to face? Or are we stuck in the rut of religious tradition, looking for relief of unpleasant circumstances, of a temporal nature?

Can you say with King David:

Cast me not away from Your presence O Lord; take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:11-12 KJV)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Christ Redeemed Us

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Galatians 3:10-14

As we prepare our hearts for Easter let us consider why the sacrifice of Christ was necessary. I marvel at the cohesive message given in both Old and New Testaments.

As far back as Deuteronomy (21:22-23), hanging on a tree was a shameful thing. There the punishment differed from actual death on a tree…the already dead body would be exposed to shame and ridicule, for all to see. Interesting, isn’t it, how centuries later Jesus was put to death in this most shameful way?

In his letter to the Galatian church the Apostle Paul points out what will happen to those who do not keep the law perfectly. James tells us that those who sin in one point are guilty of all (James 2:10). Of course you and I will not likely commit murder, nor will we break other of the Ten Commandments, but how often do we think we get away with just a little coveting? Or – heaven forbid, what about slandering a neighbour? Do we worship at the shrine of health or wealth? These could cost us eternity in heaven, but for the redemption Christ purchased by His ignominious death.

His death was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. We might note that Paul, quoting from Moses’ writings, declared Abraham righteous by his faith. Galatians 3:6 “He believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness”.

Martin Luther discovered “The righteous will live by faith!” This glorious discovery which set Luther’s spirit free from so many laws that bound him, changed his whole life! But it cost. He was persecuted for his very faith.

He wanted others to understand that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Old Testament message of God’s love is consistent with the New, because love is the essence of our heavenly Father’s being. Moses wrote about how God in His unfailing love would redeem His people (Exodus 15:13). That love could last through 1,000 generations, conditioned on the obedient, love responses of His children (Deuteronomy 5:10).

John tells us that those who received Him, believing in Jesus’ name, to them [the Father] gives the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). That’s faith isn’t it?

Many of us are familiar with Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail – they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness”!

The great love chapter of the Bible is really 1 John 4. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (:10). “We love Him because He first loved us” (:19). The apostle John knew Jesus personally. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (:18). His experience taught him that the sign of being called the children of God came from the great love the Father lavishes on us (John 3:1)! But it cost.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Reflection:

Are you trying hard to be a good person? How far will that get you?

How effective is Jesus’ redemption? To whom does it apply? (John 1:12)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Advent

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Wikipedia describes Advent as “a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventusmeaning “coming”. Advent is not a word to be found in the Bible, but was designed by the early church to signify a momentous Biblical truth. The LORD Jesus has come. Why was this so significant?

Today we hold the whole of scripture in our hands, the Old Testament and the New. Throughout both the key figure is the LORD. He is known by several names given to God’s chosen people Israel. Let us note that these Israelites were not chosen on the basis of their great accomplishments or particular intellect. In fact we do not know why they, above any other people groups, were “chosen”. We do know that although God’s choice seems at first glance to be exclusive, He made His intention clear from the very beginning. When He called Abraham out of Ur, God stated He would include all nations in His Divine plan (Genesis 12:3).

God’s design was to develop a nation of people who would truly worship Him, preparatory to the Advent which, from the beginning, He knew would be necessary. It had not taken long for mankind to succumb to temptation, a choice that gives everyone, to this day, the knowledge of good and evil.

Many good people lived in the centuries between Adam and Christ. However, the general bent was for man to displease God, to rebel against His laws, to worship other gods and to destroy one another. The world became so dark that God nearly annihilated all mankind. His own chosen people were dispersed throughout the then-known world, away from their land, away from their centre of worship. Just as He is doing today, God gave people over to the evil desires of their hearts (Romans 1:24).

At last it was time! Into a very dark world came the light of life (John 1:4-5). The advent of Jesus brought both light and life. Hope! The yearning heart of God would be satisfied. Through Jesus Christ a people responsible for spreading the light of the gospel would be “born again” – people who celebrated the advent of holiness into an evil world. What a contrast!

It is enough to say Jesus was the fulfilment of prophesy. This is why His coming – His advent, is remembered more than 2,000 years later as the pivotal point in history. Satan has tried in every way to get rid of Jesus, because once He came to earth He continued to indwell His people through His Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Believers continue to crush the head of the serpent, who writhes in his attempts to darken the doors of churches, and the hearts of men.

But for the advent of our LORD, it is quite possible that Satan’s strikes would have endangered mankind forever. However, the purposes, the Word, and promises of God must not be overlooked. God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).

Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Reflection:

How many children keep an advent calendar? Perhaps some adults do too. Does it focus on the baby Jesus? Or does this season of advent mean simply a moment to rush around purchasing gifts and food, decorating homes and squeezing in the occasional moment to carol songs about the Christmas spirit? How many people have the real spirit of Christmas, a spirit of peace and good will to all? Have our traditions burdened our spirits into a seasonal grumpiness because of all the obligations family and friends have placed upon us? What do our hearts sing about the Advent of Jesus?

by Marilyn Daniels. http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Immanuel

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Matthew 1:18-23

Our Lord Jesus had many names, Immanuel being one of them. It means ‘God with us’. Most frequently remembered as a name from Isaiah’s prophecy, we sing songs about Immanuel at Christmas time. Matthew records the fulfillment of this prophecy (Matthew 1:23) .

Dr. Richard Bucher has found over 100 names and titles given to Jesus throughout scripture. Each one is rich with meaning as it identifies a significant characteristic of our Lord. He suggests that none has such great meaning as this one – Immanuel.

In a sense God has always been with His people – “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?….Do I not fill heaven and earth? Declares the Lord” (Jer. 23:24). God never lost an awareness of what was going on in the lives of His people. But the reality is they had shut Him out of their lives.

Sin often separated the Israelites from their God (Isaiah 59:2). Isaiah further describes details of Israel’s sins and their consequences, in the rest of this chapter. Other scriptures like Psalm 14:2-3, 1 John 1:8 and James 2:10 clearly reveal that all mankind is sinful before God. However, the Lord’s message was always one of hope “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear!” (Isaiah 59:1, 16, 20). Even in exile, experiencing the consequences of their rebellious hearts, God was present (Ezekiel 16:59-60).

Knowing we cannot live righteously on our own, evidenced by the Israelites’ failure to keep the 10 commandments, the Mosaic law, God knew further help was needed. He who longs for relationship has lavished both His grace and His love on believers (Ephesians 1:8, 1 John 3:1). The condition for receipt of His gift of love is that a person must believe and receive it (John 1:12).

Reflection:

As with His people of long ago, today the same need exists! Sin separates us from a pure and holy God. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 64:6). We need GOD with us! Imagine – we have been given the Holy Spirit to indwell each person who repents of their sin and asks God to reign in their lives! Merry Christmas! This is God’s message to humankind, as the babe became “Immanuel”.

by Marilyn Daniels. http://www.marilyndaniels.net

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Pondering the Puzzle!

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Isaiah 7:9-23

One of my favourite hobbies is doing jigsaw puzzles. I have friends who share this interest, so now family and friends have some exquisite scenery lining their walls, over which many happy hours were spent. What makes it so interesting? Tiny bits and pieces require minute examination to see if patterns and colours will match. It is so satisfying when the strangest shapes suddenly fall into place!

For me, sometimes scriptures are a puzzle. Take for example the sign given to Isaiah of the virgin conceiving and bearing a son. We need to look at the context to examine this puzzle piece. Israel had been continually disobedient. By Chapter 7 the Lord has already exclaimed “Stop” three times. “Stop bringing meaningless offerings” (1:13). “Stop doing wrong” (1:16). “Stop trusting in man” (2:22). He has pronounced more than seven woes descrying the varied sins of His people.

Now in the era of King Ahaz, an opportunity to test the nation’s faith presented itself in the design by Syrian and Israelite kings to overpower Jerusalem. (By this time Israel and Judah had split, becoming separate kingdoms.) Ahaz is warned by God “If you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all!” (7:9). Having said that, the Lord challenges Ahaz to ask for a sign that will bolster his faith. He’s given great latitude “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights” (7:11). I wonder what I would have answered in the same situation….and you?

Ahaz refused, sounded very pious: “I will not put the Lord to the test” (7:12). How would you respond if one of your children refused the offer to ask for something you wanted to give them? Isaiah was exasperated! However, God was not taken by surprise. He had the puzzle piece ready to fit. A virgin will conceive. Some commentators suggest that Isaiah knew this referred to the young woman he was going to marry and that he was prophesying, under the power of the Holy Spirit, that she would bear a son. It is presumed that Isaiah’s first wife had died after the birth of his first son. The second son would not have reached the age of moral discrimination before the rest of the prophecy came true. The kings that Ahaz feared so much would both be dead and their kingdoms laid waste (7:16). Other puzzle pieces yet to be fitted in, include several references to “in that day” (7:18, 20, 21, 23).

Reflection:

Let’s think about this. What do we know about the nation Israel, or learn about God in this scripture? Does this prophecy fit into one time frame or does it cover past and present (for us), as well as future. This is where we require time to ponder. Puzzles were not put together in an instant. They require a right perspective, an overview, some experimentation, patience, and certainty that it will all fit together in the end.

In hind sight we know that Jesus was the future predication fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy – the babe born of a virgin! The fulfillment of this sign assures us that other prophecies will be completed in His time. As much as the reality of God’s outworking in the faith of Ahaz, so is this a reality when our own faith is tested.

For example – what signs have been fulfilled in your life and mine? Do we know we have been freed from our sins by the blood of Christ? Do we know the power of the Holy Spirit when we are tempted and tried? Have we seen the hand of God leading us into paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake? Looking back, how has God fit the puzzle pieces of your life together?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Challenge For Today

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Ezekiel 33

Recently the news media made us aware of child abuse taking place in another country where young girls are “married” according to the rules of their religion, for short periods of time. Essentially this was one way of covering sexual abuse that is becoming increasingly more prevalent, in a place where poverty makes girls helpless victims as young as the age of 9.

One girl being interviewed with her face covered, told the interviewer that life for her ended, once this abuse began. There was no hope for a normal life once she was victimized. One wonders how any religious group might believe that God is pleased with the destruction of a child’s future hopes and prospects. Yet it is happening around our civilized world today. What does God’s Word tell us?

Luke records Jesus’ woe: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through which they come. It would be much better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck, than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Luke 17:1-2).

Jesus also calls little children to come to Him. Many of us may be familiar with his words: “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). He demonstrated His personal love and concern for children.

What happens to abused children in our world today? How responsible are Christians for social injustices? Will it do when we stand before God to tell Him we felt helpless? That we prayed for them? What fuels our passion? Do we take comfort in the fact that God will take care of them? Truly we believe His mercy and justice will, in the end, take care of all those who are victims of man’s violence. But will we be held responsible in any way? Must we not engage in yet another form of warfare in the twenty-first century?

Ezekiel’s words are forever a challenge to my heart. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman….so hear the Word I speak and give warning from Me….. If you have warned the wicked man to turn from his ways, and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 33:7, 9).

How effective has our sense of mission been around the world? Do we truly believe the gospel, given in Jesus’ words “I am the way the truth and the life…no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6)? Does the World, for whom Jesus gave His life, know or care that life is sacred, a gift from God not to be violated in any way?

Children are the future of every nation. What must be done, what can we do, to protect them for Jesus’ sake? Their abuse is only a symptom of an even greater evil; buried in the heart of man is rebelliousness against the very God some folks claim to serve. That is spelled out in Frank Sinatra’s song: “I did it my way”. Is this then the challenge for our world today?

Reflection:

How much effort have I made to warn my world about the consequences of evil?

Have I demonstrated the love of Christ in such a way as to win others to the cause of Christ?

Does Ezekiel’s warning apply to the Church of the twenty-first century?

How practical is it to pray for victims of abuse around our world? Is there anything else we must do?

by Marilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Triumph of Mercy

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James 2:8-13

Our Ladies are studying the book of James. We’ve probably read it many times, but there is still much to learn! A little phrase suddenly jumped out at me “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (2:13). First of all we need to understand what judgment looks like.

In our world today people are tweeting about their personal observations, so often from the bias of criticism, it seems. Is this the test of one’s intelligence, I wonder, to be able to discern the faults of others? How often are we acting out what Jesus warned about – looking at the speck of sawdust in our brother’s or sister’s eye, while ignoring the plank that limits the vision in our own (Matthew 7:4). Jesus recommended that we take time to remove the plank before we assume a helping relationship with our brother/sister (Matthew 7:5).

Sometimes we ignore the potential dangers God warned the Israelites about …the damage of giving false testimony about our neighbour (Deuteronomy 5:20), because we are so quick to pass sentence on another fellow human being. James reminds us that often anger is the basis of our condemnation, so we should pause to listen, before expressing our opinions (James 1:19). Have we forgotten the besetting sins of our own nature that make us so displeasing to God?… and yet He repeatedly forgives us. Can we, will we, pause to remember His mercy?

Here’s the thing – Jesus told the crowd assembled on the mount, that we will be judged with the same measure of mercy we deliver towards those who offend us (Matthew 7:2). James amplifies this thought:
“judgment
without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” (James 2:13). That follows the theme of the Lord’s prayer that so many of us know by heart, and repeat often: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12 KJV).

Do we really want God to forgive us in the same way as we have forgiven others? Even William Shakespeare got it right when he wrote the Merchant of Venice, reminding Shylock that mercy must be freely given – “The quality of mercy is not strained [forced]”. It must be genuine, real. God knows whether or not we are going through the motions, or if we mean what we say.

Often it is hard to forgive – it is a Divine gift in the moment. With God it is possible for mercy to triumph over judgment. Our judgment may or may not be perfectly correct. That is not the issue. The ability to lean on God to help us deliver His mercy to others is demonstrated by our desire, and His power, to forgive. This is the Divine triumphing in the lives of human beings!

Reflection:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We say we are followers of Jesus. He was so merciful to those who were accused! May we learn from His example. His love drew people to Himself! May our lives exemplify our appreciation for all men and women because they are made in the image of God. Search my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me , before I pronounce judgment on anyone else. Help me to remember Jesus’ words “He/she who is without sin cast the first stone”. May I live by His perfect example, which demonstrated Your love for everyone. May Your mercy out-weight the judgments I might make. Keep me from slandering others. Empower me, my Father, to triumph over evil. In Jesus’ name I pray.

By Marilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Dead Will Hear

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John 6:24-29

 

Again we are privileged to listen in as Jesus is speaking to the crowds. We need to look at the context to understand what He means when He says “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God” (:25). First of all notice that He identifies Himself as the Son of God throughout this chapter. Nearly 20 times, Jesus refers to His special Father-Son relationship with God. Secondly He is talking about eternal life (:24). He uses the present tense to describe crossing from death to life.

 

Now, as so often John records, Jesus prefaces His message with “I tell you the truth….” (6:25). Only God is the essence of truth. Here on earth our truth is motivated so often by self-interest, but God’s is pure truth and this is what His only begotten Son will tell people then, and now.

 

Jesus says the time has come, in fact it is now – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Who are the dead? Surely Jesus didn’t mean those buried in the ground. Of course not! He is talking about spiritually dead people. Paul spelled it out for the Ephesian church “You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live” (2:1). That describes spiritual death in the midst of physical life, separation from God who cannot be in the presence of sin.

 

To further prove He is talking about spiritual life and death, Jesus clarified His Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him, should have eternal life…and I will raise him/her up in the last day” (6:40). Note that eternal life begins at the moment when a person puts their faith in God’s Holy Son! It is not something we wait to receive when we die. That eternal life is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).

 

The Jews kept asking Jesus for a sign to prove His deity (6:30). One might wonder what they expected. After all He was known for His miracles, so much so that crowds followed Him (6:24). How many of those who followed Him then were still dead, looking for excitement because of this miracle-worker new in town? Curious? Wanting to be fed, healed, to be seen as good because they were allied with a Holy man? How many things motivate a human being’s loyalties? We know the crowd was fickle. After lauding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, within a week they turned to shout “Crucify Him”! What caused their change of heart? They were dead spiritually. Those who were alive followed Christ to the tomb, grieving over His suffering and sacrifice.

 

It is a mystery how some folks go to church all their lives, but never hear the voice of the Son of God. We cannot judge another human heart, but Jesus knows, and the final judgment has been given to Him (5:22). Its never too late to hear, while physical life lasts. The thief on the cross was promised eternal life in Paradise that very day. How merciful is God to forgive at the eleventh hour, but oh what a waste of life in which one might have found such joy and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Reflection:

“Come Holy Spirit, dark is the hour.

We need Your filling your love and Your mighty power.

Move now among us, stir us today.

Come Holy Spirit – Revive Your church today!” John W. Peterson

Devotional · Uncategorized

Seeing Through Stained Glass

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1 Corinthians 13:8-12

Someone coined the phrase “looking at life through rose-tinted glasses”. This is described as an unduly idealistic, optimistic, sentimental, or wistful perspective on or about something. People looking through rose-tinted glasses only notice the good things about them, a view that is unrealistic. Its good to be positive in one’s outlook, but it is also important to be balanced.

The Apostle Paul was aware of mankind’s tendency to look through a glass darkly – a view through which our judgment is somewhat clouded. God gave Paul the reason why we do not see things clearly, which thankfully he recorded for our own understanding. In his first letter to the Corinthians church, Paul explains that our knowledge is only partial (:9). God who is omniscient, needs you and me to rely on His wisdom, knowledge and love. Sometimes we see in part because we don’t want to accept responsibility for things we do; as with the first people on earth, its easier to blame someone else than to accept the rebuke of a friend. “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:8).

It is common for us to see a poor reflection of ourselves in a mirror, rose-tinted or otherwise darkened by sin. James gives us some further insights on how to deal with this problem. When looking at oneself in a mirror there are two options. If we don’t like what we see, we can do something about it, or we can go into denial. The Holy Spirit gave James an important truth – humans have the tendency to immediately forget what they might recognize and work to improve (James 1:24). Is this wise?

God longs for us to be pure, when we claim to follow Jesus. His Word gives us the direction we need, clarifying His will for our lives. When we spend time studying the Bible we are freed, James goes on to say (1:25), and blessed by the liberty God gives to us, from the sin that so easily bests us. Once our spirits have soared into the heavenlies , let loose like a balloon floating up into the sky, who would return to the darkness of this world’s thinking and degrading behaviours?

Paul and James agree that maturity, gained through love and perseverance is the Christian’s goal…..mature in understanding God’s character, we grow to be more like Him…..mature in our understanding of what true love looks like – that amazing love of God which is more than compassionate, which is impossible without His unconditional love flowing through us.

Growing in our faith requires action on our part. He has given us the means to know Him….His Word, David said, saved him from sinning against God (Psalm 119:11). It wasn’t just reading it or hiding it in his heart, but by obeying God’s word, David was blessed. God in turn blesses us, wiping away the darkness that clouds our vision, as we persevere. Its hard to do God’s will, to be obedient but He stands ready to give us all the wisdom and knowledge required to do His will. He doesn’t leave us to flounder alone!

Reflection:

Will you accept responsibility for your own sins? How does God want you to deal with them?

Does your life and mine bring joy to the heart of God?

Have you been freed by the perfect law of God?

Do you understand what God requires of you in His perfect law? Its not complicated –

If anyone considers himself/herself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his/her tongue, he/she

deceives themselves and his/her religion is worthless” (James 1:26)

http://www.marilyndaniels.net